Do you agree that people are generally reluctant to change their perceptions and ideas to accommodate the facts?Or is it easier to maintain the status quo based on their own prior experiences?

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I certainly do agree with this statement.  And I would even go so far as to say that people's perceptions and ideas are not even necessarily based upon their own experiences, but upon mere belief.  A good recent example of this is the persistent belief that our President was not born in the United States, in spite of the conclusive evidence to the contrary.  And just today, I heard people saying that the latest unemployment figures were manipulated by the President, to help him get elected.  There is not one iota of evidence to support this accusation.  There have been numerous studies done to substantiate that even when presented with facts, people do not change their ideas and perceptions.  Sad, but true. 

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The prospect of opening up one or two ideas to doubt and change might imply (correctly, I think) that all of our ideas should be subjected to renewed circumspection, doubt, and analysis. There is a worry that if the first step of skepticism is taken regarding one's own opinions, the second step is inevitable and that step will be the big fall into utter uncertainty. 

We fear uncertainty and we fear the implicit phenomenological self-doubt that comes with the notion that our "experience" has somehow been erroneous or inaccurate. Ironically, it may be our desire to trust our perceptions and so be assured of our sanity that keeps us from adjusting our opinions to match with fact. 

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many of the posts above have described a farily time-honored concept in psychology known as "cognitive dissonance." According to this idea, people hold many cognitions, most of which are irrelevant to each other, in that they neither conflict or reinforce each other. When people encounter cognitions that conflict with the ones they already have, however, they are faced with a number of responses, and often choose to respond by simply denying the new information, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Often people invent totally new cognitions that, in their minds, counteract the new information.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too, agree with the statement. I know that I believe certain things to be true. These are my own beliefs (regardless of the "facts"). Therefore, I would have a hard time changing how I feel about something just because its contradiction is determined to be a "fact." The way I look at it, the only things which can be facts are the things which I deem to be true. Therefore, anything I deem to be untrue is not true for me.

While this may be twisted, it is how I choose to look at the world.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that this is definitely true.  In fact, recent studies have seem to indicate that the more people learn about something that goes against their beliefs, the more they hold to those original beliefs.  This presumably stems from a psychological desire to hold on to certainties even when those certainties are wrong.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, I agree that people don't often change perceptions.  People tend to find facts that support their idea of reality.  Often this is a complete self-delusion.  In today's fragmented society, it is easy to find people who think like you do.

discussion1984 | Student

That was a really interesting question. I think that in many cases it's too hard to ignore the facts. They often speak loudly and clearly. That said, "facts" can easily be used or distorted to change perceptions. For instance, if I continually show negative exaggerations to someone over a long period of time, those start to become "facts" to someone perceiving them. And then their perception may change to accomodate those facts. Of course, in reality the "facts" are only exaggerations and distortions, but it's difficult to see them as they are after a while. I'd say that perception is extremely important in discerning what's real and what isn't. But at the same time, I wouldn't say that it accounts for everything that's real. Reason really can play a huge role in determining whether "facts" should be accepted or rejected. For instance, though I may perceive the same thing happening over and over again, reason can tell me that it is irrational that I should expect the same thing to happen in the future, because induction is not guaranteed.